We took a train form Chennai to Tiruchirappalli (Trichy), a journey I had been greatly looking forward to, tired of the hustle, bustle and dust of Chennai. I see the train as the quintessential mode of Indian transportation, even though we booked our tickets in the A/C chair car. I was still feeling rather unwell, having not eaten in 2 days (aside for a packet of cream crackers, courtesy of Mona Chity) and slept for most of the 5 1/2 hour ride. I was able to watch our depature from Chennai however, and looked on as we rolled past palm leaf hut settlements, colourful, packed stations and people picking their way along the tracks. The occasional grazing cow and laundry set to dry on the hot stones of the rail tracks signified the transition from urban centre to country and the tightly packed buildings gradually faded into lush greenery, rolling open fields and clear sky.
Arriving in Trichy, we were greeted by Sangeev's parents and cousin at the station. We could immediately perceive the decrease in business compared to Chennai, and were thankful for it. I was totally zoned out at this point, but managed to successfully have some naan
for dinner at the Banana Leaf, a tasty restaurant (apparently) with suspiciously low lighting (Abi was convinced they were trying to hide something). We checked into our home for the next few days, the Ramayas Hotel, centrally located across for the main bus stand and went to sleep, yet again. Was feeling fairly unsettled and homesick by this point, especially because of my poor health. Traveling, even in luxury, is much harder than I thought it would be... hopefully it will get easier with time. Yet, I still revel in this experience and don't regret coming for a moment. Everything is just SO different; NOTHING is the same as in Canada...
The next morning we woke at 8am, a later hour than normal, and were picked up by Sangeev's father for the first visit to the family house. Abi, not permitted to attend (until after they are married) stayed back, and I made my way with Laltha Ama, Mona Chity and Sangi Mama (and my savior, glucose water) for this momentous occasion. We arrived at the gated home in a quiet, bright residential neighbourhood and were welcomed in. Many branches of the family live in this house so it
No photos allowed from inside, but this was wicked awesome anyhow...
always has a bustling feeling to it, intensified by the aproaching wedding. After the giving of copious gifts from Canada, we were treated to a lovely breakfast of iddly, dosa, roti, curries with names I do not begin to know, sweet rice and savory rice all of which was exquistie. My first real food in a few days, I took it easy but enjoyed it thoroughly. I felt very priviliged to have attended this gathering and am again greatful to be traveling with a Tamil family for such an important event.
After having a swing on the front veranda and enjoying the beautiful morning sun, we said our goodbyes, and I my thank you's (to which Vimla Chity, Sangeev's aunt replied "Meg, you need not thank us all the time, we're family) we got into our hired car and were whisked away for a morning temple tour (to my surprise). I was only alerted to this when the car stopped in a village and I was told to get out without my shoes. Going with the flow, I got out and we made our way into the marvelous Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. Dated back to the 10th century this was a truly incredible strucutre with ornatedly carved stone pillars and beautifully towering entrances with colorful depictions of gods and goddesses. This place felt truly powerful and holy and I was really deeply touched by my experience of going here. I was not permitted into the inner sanctum, as a man at the gate informed us by pointing at me and shaking his head, so I crouched on the steps of the roofed temple structure to people-watch while the others went in. As I sat people passed by and looked at me with varying degrees of interest. One old man extended his hand to me in greeting and asked me where I was from. I replied that I was from Canada and he told me that he was from Trichy. He asked me if I was going inside and when I told him I wasn't, he told me that it was too crowded anyhow. We both smiled and he made his way onwards.
We visited two more temples, both of which I was allowed into, and saw a range of amazing and bizarre things, from receiving blessings from a priest and drawing the sign of Shiva across my forehead, to an elephant to seeing people being rolled across the temple floors in obvious fullfillment of their promises ot god. After all of this excitement and newness I was exhausted and returned to the hotel where I slept for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I'm not sure why I'm so tired, but my body demands that I rest and I feel relatively powerless to fight against it.
More to come about the wedding soon! (With pictures, I promise:)
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